After losing my passport in China at the end of 2018 and resolving tons of personal matters in the year 2019, I felt pleased when my new 50-page passport book came in the mail in early February. Due to financial constraints brought about by the loss of my main source of income–talent acquisition and management for nightlife venues–I’d been unable to go anywhere except for Miami last year.
The Tempting Cheap Flight
I wanted to go to Atlanta so badly and with no work for me in my college town in Upstate New York, getting a cheap flight with JetBlue to one of the biggest party cities in The South to go hustle and make some fast money seemed like a solid way to finally resolve my debts, rebuild my cash savings, and get ready to buy an investment property in the area. Additionally, I had an idea for a pitch to Vice revolving around these clubs. As soon as I got off the plane, I knew that the universe didn’t want me to be down there just yet.
Whew Chile The Ghetto
Not only was a train blocking my path to the AirBnb for close to 20 minutes while I stood out in the rain, but the neighborhood I’d chosen was scary AF. Unlike New York, if you’re a woman walking around on the sidewalks down South, they’ll assume you’re a street walker and start messing with you.
There were so many super aggressive homeless people all around me and I was alone, unarmed, and carrying thousands of dollars worth of equipment for a work trip.
I’d spent a week preparing but somehow forgotten to pack an iPhone charger. After self-checking into the bnb to drop off my suitcase, I walked back outside with my giant, over-the-ear, white-and-red Skull Candy headphones and blared Cardi B.
The rain had stopped and when I waltzed up to the first corner store, I stood behind an old lady with my pink face mask on and waited to ask the owner about an emergency bodega iPhone charger.
“I don’t like the way she’s breathing,” the old hag remarked.
I wanted to tell her I didn’t like the way she was still breathing, either, but after a 2.5 hour train ride to the LIRR to the AirTran to a 2 hour plane ride, I had zero energy to argue with ignorant rednecks.
When she stepped away from the counter, me and the Asian American shop owner played a fun game of charades until he realized I had a dead phone battery and handed me a $5 cord. I walked back to the bnb and plugged the cord in only to realize that it didn’t work.
Frustrated, yet determined to hit the ground running that evening, I went back outside to a gas station in the other direction. On my way there, I observed a burnt out bus in the middle of an arid field and a rundown discount furniture shop.
Hardly anyone I spoke to seemed friendly or helpful except for one burly Chevron worker, who tested different iPhone chargers for me behind the counter before making me a promise that I could bring the it back for a refund if it didn’t work.
I plugged my weary phone in as soon as I closed the door to my room. It charged to 13% before it started beeping as if it were being plugged in and unplugged simultaneously, over and over again until I pulled it out and chucked the second cord. Fortunately, the hostess, a svelte, bespectacled woman in her late forties loaned me a charger.
Instead of going out that night, I crashed immediately, even though my good friend Kam, a club promoter, really wanted to meet up for the first time since last summer.
Welcome to Atlanta, Baby
I set the borrowed iPhone charger on the kitchen table and made my way down to Buckhead by way of MARTA. With Pandora set to the Migos station and drops of sweat crowded under my Deadpool hoodie, I hopped off the train into the unknown.
The Apple store in Lenox Mall had what I needed to get me through the rest of the trip. Or so I thought.
That evening, I put on my glimmer eyeshadow, winter foundation, and fake eyelashes. I decided to try a mid-level club. When I got there, the male manager–a stout, bald, smily gentleman at the front of the house–told me they weren’t hiring for night shift.
“What’s a place that’s really easy to get in where I can work tonight?” I asked with a smile.
He put me on to a place not too far up the road and I hopped in another Lyft.
Um…Where’s the Nightlife?
When I got there, a pale-skinned hostess with a red-shirt and delicately plumped lips who looked a bit like an older, wiser, Kylie Jenner sat at the front. I asked for an application and with a smile she handed me one.
When the house manager came to the front, my heart sank. I knew I wouldn’t be getting in as soon as I saw her; an old, conservatively-dressed, bone-white bob-having, traditional Southern madame. As a New Yorker who’d traveled in the middle of a national emergency, I had regional bias and legit health concerns working against me.
I tried to chat her up but she grabbed the inner door and swung it open. “See? There’s no customers here and we’re normally packed on a Thursday night. I can’t take girls from out of state, especially New York. We might be under quarantine in two weeks.”
With no club to work in so that I could go undercover for my assignment, I broke down and called my boyfriend to get me an emergency, next-day flight out of Atlanta. I stayed up all night talking to my friends in various group chats. My bank account suffered an overdraft, but luckily, through the help of a friend, I found a temporary job I can start tomorrow in Albany while I continue to grow and develop my freelance writing business.
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